The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
This assurance from Moses seems counterintuitive. It must have seemed especially so to the Israelites at the time it was spoken as they looked behind them and saw the advancing Egyptian army. Be still? I’m no military man, but that sure doesn’t sound like a winning strategy to me. Sounds like a good way to get yourself killed.
Egypt had them surrounded, pinned, with their backs to the Red Sea and with no escape in sight. To some of the people, “be still” must have sounded at first like advice to resign themselves to their inevitable impending demise. The situation could not have seemed more hopeless.
There are times in our lives that seem utterly devoid of hope. But it is the moment at which we reach the end of ourselves and our abilities that God’s work begins. I think Moses had more or less learned this lesson already–God had worked through him mightily to bring the people out of Egypt, despite Moses’ reluctance, lack of credibility, low self-esteem, past sins, and speech impediment. But now it was Israel’s turn. Here they found themselves in the valley of the shadow of death, and here was that same Moses assuring them that God would be with them, God would deliver them, and God would save them from the hand of the Egyptians.
In these moments, as Israel did, we learn that God has a plan that is so much more than all we could ask or imagine. It is in these moments that we most deeply understand the words of the hymn: